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Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  104 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
To obtain sacred relics, medieval monks plundered tombs, avaricious merchants raided churches, and relic-mongers scoured the Roman catacombs. In a revised edition of Furta Sacra, Patrick Geary considers the social and cultural context for these acts, asking how the relics were perceived and why the thefts met with the approval of medieval Christians.
ebook, 248 pages
Published June 27th 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published November 30th 1977)
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B. Hawk
Feb 22, 2011 B. Hawk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Throughout the period between 800 and 1100, there developed a growing hagiographic tradition that claimed the translations of saints from one location to another by way of theft. These strange accounts are the subject of Geary's project, an examination that opens the way to further understanding of the power of relics and their role in medieval society.

For the most part, the book has a specific range of time and texts, with only the the introduction and chapter one describing the broad strokes o
Sorprendentemente, il tema di questo saggio, Furta sacra. La trafugazione delle reliquie nel Medioevo, risulta ancora attualissimo, a giudicare dalle notizie di questi giorni…

E va beh, ho voluto esordire con una battuta ad effetto, ma in realtà i confronti fra la cronaca di oggi e i furti di reliquie nel Medioevo sono improbabili: tanto per cominciare, all’epoca, a scassinare tombe e reliquiari e a portarsi via ossa e corpi erano spesso uomini di Chiesa, e tali furti erano celebrati e approvati
Geary looks at relic thefts in Western Europe between about 800 and 1100, seeking to categorise them but also to understand why they were carried out. Comprehending the motives of relic thieves can be puzzling for a modern audience, particularly when it comes to understanding why their actions were not automatically condemned. In this slim, clearly-written book, Geary does a good job at unpicking the rationalisations which were in vogue during this period of the Middle Ages. Relics, particularly ...more
Susan Duncan
Dec 17, 2013 Susan Duncan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this while I was searching the shelves around here for something else and had to read it again. The phenomenon itself is fascinating, so it's worth a read just for the narratives of what amounted to the ritual kidnapping of saints. My favorite story of relic theft required decades of contrivance and biding of one particular monk's time. Seriously. Why? The story of the theft effectively created a break with the past and with the community in which the relics had resided-- especially since ...more
An excellent examination of the history of relic veneration and theft. Some sections on individual monasteries' histories and arguments over document dating were predictably dry, but the theft accounts and Geary's religious, political, historical, and symbolic analyses of relics and their importance were really quite fascinating (if you're a nerd about this topic, anyway, which I am). Clear, brief, and insightful account.
Mar 21, 2016 c rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not as interested in Western Europe as Furta Sacra would require - and I read this in conjunction with a project on England - so I feel like a good portion of this text was lost on me because I don't have the strongest grip on the geography/time period but nevertheless, what a fun read. I do feel like it tended a bit terse in areas which would have been more interesting to explore in depth, hence the 4/5 stars.
Sep 18, 2009 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patrick Geary was not rewarded with praise after this book first came out. However, it is a great book and fortunately has received respect since its first publication. He shows how monks and the Christian Church knowingly stole relics and the reasons why they did it.
Selina Gonzalez
Oct 13, 2016 Selina Gonzalez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, thoughtful, and accessible consideration of accounts of relics thefts and the interplay between society and relics. Geary did a good job taking a measured look at the subject matter without giving into the anachronism and judgment.
Jun 21, 2009 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pure joy. Catholics will both laugh and cry. Protestants will say, "I told you so!"
Dec 06, 2011 Walt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-medieval
Excellent work by an excellent author. He describes the role of the Cult of Saints in the Middle Ages and Late Antiquity while also describing nefarious dealings pertaining to this phenomenon.
Jul 17, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
Furta Sacra is a well-researched, respectfully written "expose" of the relic trade as it was conducted during the Middle Ages.
Nov 09, 2014 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book that kicked my history senior thesis into motion. I've spent many hours with it.
Sally Fouhse
Pretty dense, definitely a book for academics. Plus the font was hard to read! Some goofball situations here, but what can you expect, dealing with dried up finger bones.
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Patrick J. Geary is an American medieval historian and Professor of Western Medieval History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey
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